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Narciso Rodríguez: 1961(?)—: Fashion Designer

Own Line Garnered Rave Reviews

Soon Rodríguez's roster of appreciative clients included British model Kate Moss, and he also created special-occasion dresses for actresses Sigourney Weaver and Claire Danes for the 1997 Academy Awards ceremony. His Cerruti 1997 autumn/winter collection won more rave reviews when shown in the spring of 1997, and Rodríguez was hailed as a designer whose star was on the rise. "In two seasons, his minimal tailoring and soft, lightly decorated style—adventurous but wearable—made Cerruti more watchable than it had been for years," declared Financial Times journalist Avril Groom. Many in the industry, then, were stunned when Rodríguez and Cerruti parted ways in mid-1997. He had just a few weeks to find another post, or his next collection, for spring/summer 1998, would neither be shown nor even made. Luckily, he was offered a post as women's design director for the House of Loewe, a Spanish leather-goods maker whose Madrid roots stretched back to 1846. Not long afterward, AEFFE, a company owned by Milan designer-manufacturer Alberta Ferretti, signed a contract with Rodríguez that gave him his own line under his own name. AEFFE was already the highly esteemed manufacturer of the work of Jean Paul Gaultier, Rifat Ozbek, and Moschino. "There was a heaviness for me that lifted when I went out on my own," Rodríguez told Guardian writer Susannah Barron. "Having my own collection was a dream I had put on the shelf for a little while, and then, when it was on the shelf, I kind of forgot about it."

Rodríguez went quickly to work on his own line, which debuted in Milan in October of 1997 to fawning critical response from the fashion pack. "Up close, the garments are jewels of meticulously bias-cut, tailored, lightweight menswear and luxury fabrics," opined Houston Chronicle journalist Linda Gillan Griffin, who predicted that the pieces from this first foray with Rodríguez's own name on the label were "destined to become collector's items." His colleagues were also enthusiastic about Rodríguez's talents. "He's Cuban. He's fire and ice," stylist Lori Goldstein told Zimbalist in Harper's Bazaar. "But it would be very boring otherwise." Rodríguez told the same writer that he was not interested in creating outlandish, unwearable clothes, or items that only seemed well-suited for a six-foot, 120-pound gamine. "Really, if it's not desirable to a woman, if it doesn't sell, then it means nothing," he said in the Harper's Bazaar interview. "It's just performance art." Rodríguez further clarified his theories about fashion in the talk with Donnally of the San Francisco Chronicle as well. "My responsibility is to celebrate a woman's beauty," he told the newspaper. "I love hips, I love draping on a woman's figure…. It's unnecessary, all the tricks and gadgets. People want to forget about fashion when you see really horrendous things coming at you."

Rodríguez also worked round-the-clock to ready a small holiday dress line for Loewe that was shown in the fall of 1997. The house, once the exclusive leather-goods maker to Spanish royalty, had fallen on hard times and had even been nationalized for a time under the regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. It had no U.S. outlets, but Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, the luxury-goods group known by its LVMH acronym, recognized its prestige and potential, and hired him to create a line of women's wear, much in the same fashion that suitcase-purveyors Prada and Vuitton had revitalized their companies through new pret-a-porter lines under young designers in the 1990s. "To Loewe … he looks like the answer to a prayer," wrote Groom in the Financial Times of Rodríguez. "His Hispanic background will give confidence to home customers who need gently modernising away from stylish but over-decorated 1980s-based conservatism." Rodríguez agreed, admitting that "Loewe brings out my Spanishness, as well as its own luxury and history," he told Groom. "I call my look for it Baroque minimalism." The Financial Times writer noted that the pair seemed well-suited to one another, asserting that Rodríguez's "deceptively simple, fluid style would appeal equally to post-feminist New Yorkers and modernised Latinas in Central and South America or Spain—underexploited areas for fashion marketing."

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyNarciso Rodríguez: 1961(?)—: Fashion Designer Biography - Rose To Fame With Besette Design, Own Line Garnered Rave Reviews, Officially Became "new York" Designer